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Jean Reed Prentiss ’33

A picture of Jean Reed Prentiss

Jean Reed Prentiss ’33, October 27, 2011, five days short of her 100th birthday, in Tualatin, Oregon. Jean was born at Neahkahnie, Nehalem, Oregon, “when it was just a big open space under the mountain.” Her father, Samuel Reed, cousin to Simeon Reed, came to Portland from Boston in 1902. Fortified with a degree in mechanical engineering from MIT, Samuel worked on the electrification of Portland before moving further west and purchasing 800 acres on the Oregon coast. His bride, Beulah Kendall Reed, though not an “open air person,” traveled on foot—the only route open from Cannon Beach—to the home built by Samuel in Neahkahnie in time to deliver twins Jean and Ruth Reed Morgan ’34. Jean, Ruth, and their sister, Marion Reed East ’26, were all Reedites. Jean, known as Jo at Reed, earned a BA from the college in general literature. She created three-minute plays for student programs in the chapel, helped decorate for dances in commons, drew cartoons for the Griffin, and served on student council. Summers during her college years were spent assisting her mother at the Kah-Ni-Tavern, a hotel built by her father, and after graduation she worked for Lipman Wolf & Company in downtown Portland. Her interest in making a career as a retail buyer ended when she met John Prentiss. They married in 1937 and later moved to Neahkahnie to assist her family and her ailing father. During World War II, Jean worked in a lumber mill in Longview, Washington, while John served in the navy. Back at Neahkahnie after the war, the two raised three daughters, Catherine, Alexandra, and Deborah. Jean also worked in the school district as a library cataloger and materials processor, volunteered for the Tillamook County library board and citizens advisory committee, put together family histories, collected stamps, camped, and enjoyed bird watching. “I did not use my Reed education toward a career,” she wrote, “but a good education is never wasted.” In telling us of Jean’s death, her daughter, Deborah, wrote, “Reed was a special place to her, and I grew up with stories of her years there.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2012

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